`Bird Witch`: Tackle Peddlers of Witchcraft Fears and Misconceptions on Social Media

Feature Article Bird Witch: Tackle Peddlers of Witchcraft Fears and Misconceptions on Social Media
MAR 1, 2024 LISTEN

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges the African public to tackle all peddlers of superstitious fears and ignorance on social media. The AfAW made this declaration following a Facebook post by a self-acclaimed prophet on the supposed death of an alleged witch flying over a church in South Africa. The post reads:

"Three weeks ago, when I came to church early in the morning, we found this evil bird dead. There is no way a witch can fly at our church premises and live". He went further to make the following declaration: "Hear me! Whosoever turns into an evil bird by midnight to monitor your activities, movement, marriage/relationship, finances, health, business, academics, success, and destiny. May Heaven send that evil man or woman on a journey of no return. In the name of Jesus". He then quoted Exodus 22: 18 which says "Suffer not a witch to live". ´Prophet' William shared a photo of a dead pigeon, that was on the floor.

William´s post was meant to fuel occult fears and anxieties on social media. The post elicited over two thousand comments and responses. Some people agreed with him. Others disagreed. Some Facebook users reprimanded him for misinforming and misleading the public. For instance, someone said: "You should be ashamed of spewing such nonsense here". Another person stated: "Sir that’s just an innocent bird. There’s no evil here. Stop misleading the masses". Another noted that the bird had nothing to do with witches or witchcraft: "A poor bird that might have died of hunger. Or loss of strength". One Facebook user commented: "There is nothing evil about that bird. Don't be an empty head".

Those who commented in agreement with William posted "Amen" to support his statement. Someone stated " I found a black bird like this dead a meter away from my doorstep in the morning. I hope it wasn't a similar witchcraft jet that crushed at my place. God is merciful indeed"

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is delighted that many of those who commented on ´prophet´ William´s post criticized his position and proposition and noted his display and demonstration of ignorance, and superstitious fear. The narrative that birds and other animals, such as cats and dogs, assist witches to perpetrate harm is used to justify cruelty to animals and sanctify witch hunting in the communities. Africans need to abandon this superstition. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches is encouraged to note that many Africans no longer blindly support and subscribe to this ancient supposition and association of birds with witchcraft and evil magic. Many Africans are waking up to the folly and baselessness of these misconceptions. We welcome the growing isolation and insulation of charlatans like ´prophet' William and other peddlers of witchcraft fears and ignorance on social media.

Leo Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which aims to end witch hunting in Africa in 2030